The Baldwin Library
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THE ITALIAN GOLDSMITH.
THE SAFETY OF THE POPES JEWELS
THE STORY OF
THE ITALIAN GOLDSMITH.
taryj and Elizabeth rKirbgy,
AUTHORS OF "THE WORLD BY THE FIRESIDE," "THINGS IN THE
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW.
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
L THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER, .. .. .. .. 7
IL THE BISHOP'S VASE, .. .. .. .. .. 19
III. HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS, .. .. .. 33
IV. THE ROBBER, .. .. .. .. .. .. 46
V. THE CHALICE, .. .. .. .. .. .. 2
VI. KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION, .. .. .. 63
VII. CELLINI IN PRISON, .. .. .. .. .. 73
VIII. FLYING FROM THE TOWER, .. .. .. .. 82
IX. CONCLUSION, .. .. .. .. .. .. 93
THE ITALIAN GOLDSMITH.
THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER.
NE day a little boy was carried on a
man's shoulders through the streets
of Florence. He held a flute in his
hand, and his father walked by his side, until
they came to a palace where some of the grave
old senators were having a feast. Then the
child was set down and taken into the palace,
for he had been brought here to amuse the
company by playing on the flute.
You would not have thought such a little
fellow could do much with the flute; but you
are quite mistaken. No sooner did he raise
it to his mouth than there came forth notes
so sweet and thrilling, that the senators were
8 THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER.
highly delighted. Indeed, they seemed never
tired of listening to him, and when he stopped
playing, they caressed him, and gave him
sweetmeats to make him go on again.
At length one of the oldest senators asked
the father, whose name was Cellini, what he
meant to teach his son besides performing on
Nothing," replied Cellini quickly; it will
be enough for my little Benvenuto to become
a musician. If it please God that he grows
up to be a man, I shall make him a better
player than any one else in the world."
I will tell you why Cellini was so anxious
for his son to be a musician. He was a
musician himself, and loved music a great deal
better than he did his business. His business
was that of a machine maker, and worker in
ivory, in carving which no one could excel
him. He used besides to make organs, lutes,
and other musical instruments, and no doubt
this part of his trade was more to his taste
than the other. He had a friend in Lorenzo
de Medici, called the magnificent, who then
ruled over Florence, and took pleasure in
encouraging artists and men of genius. But
THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER. 9
Cellini made him angry by neglecting the
ivory working for the sake of practising with
the court musicians, and as he forsook his
business, so his business forsook him. Things
threatened to go badly with the poor musi-
cian, and he only just saved himself from ruin
by returning to his trade, and working at it
industriously. You might have thought he
would wish his son to work at it too; but no !
What he had failed to do himself, he resolved
that his son should accomplish. Benvenuto
should be a musician and nothing else, and he
devoted him to it from his very cradle.
But, in spite of his father's passion for
music, the little Cellini had no liking for it,
though he played so we I upon the flute. As
he grew up, it became clear to every one what
was the bent of his mind.. He earnestly
longed to be a goldsmith, and to model beau-
tiful things in gold and silver, such as he saw
in many of the shops in Florence. For I
must tell you that these were the palmy days
of Italian art. The great Michael Angelo
was then living, and many sculptors and paint-
ers whose works and names will be remem-
bered as long as the world lasts. And the
10 THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER.
Italian goldsmiths were most of them sculp-
tors and artists too, and wrought such beauti-
ful things in gold, silver, and bronze, that
kings and emperors were only too glad to
employ them. Young as Cellini was, he had
a decided genius for this work, and if he were
but allowed to have his own way, he could
not help succeeding, and making a name for
himself in the world. Still, his father would
not hear of his being a goldsmith, and the
utmost grace he could obtain was permission
to draw part of the day, and then practise on
his flute for the remainder.
But it is no easy matter to turn aside the
bent of genius, even in early youth; and so
the old man found it. Benvenuto contrived
to pick up a great deal of knowledge of the
art from different goldsmiths with whom he
occasionally worked, either running away from
home, or coaxing his father to allow him
Things went on in this way till he was
sixteen, when a friend of -his took upon him-
self to meddle with his concerns, and revive
the old story of making him a musician.
He went to the Cardinal de Medici, who
THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER. 11
was afterwards Pope Clement VII., and said
to him, "Benvenuto Cellini is already a good
musician, and plays well upon the flute. It
is a pity he cannot be sent to Bologna to take
lessons from a famous master there."
The cardinal seemed to like the idea of
sending Benvenuto to learn music at Bologna,
and the next time he saw the elder Cellini, he
began to talk to him about it, and offered to
give his son letters of introduction to the prin-
cipal people there.
The cardinal's proposal stirred up the long
cherished wish in the old man's heart. He
was more eager than ever for his son to excel
on the flute, and as soon as he came home he
ran to meet him.
Thou wilt be a musician now in earnest!"
cried he; and he told him of the cardinal's
visit, and what they had been talking about.
Benvenuto felt very glad he was going to
Bologna, because he wanted to see more of the
world. But he hated the thought of taking
lessons in music. "Oh, that odious flute!"
exclaimed he, when his father was out of
hearing. "But never mind, Benvenuto, we
will do something when we get to Bologna!"
12 THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER.
And no sooner did he get to Bologna than
he hired himself to a goldsmith as his assist-
ant. He earned a great deal of money, for he
was already extremely clever in setting jewels,
and making vases, and other elegant articles
of the kind. And this was a very good thing,
because the cardinal gave him no assistance
except the letters of introduction, and Benve-
nuto could not live upon these. But as he
had come to Bologna to learn music, he took
a lesson every day upon the flute. He did so
to please his father, and from a sense of duty,
for he still hated music, and his whole heart
was in his work at the goldsmith's.
Now, Benvenuto had a brother, named Cec-
chino, or the son of a musician, and the old
man was as determined to make him a man
of letters as he had been to make Benvenuto
a player on the flute. Benvenuto was willing
enough to oblige his father in anything that
did not cross his own inclinations, so he kept
sending home money to be spent in teaching
his brother Latin; "For no man," he said,
" can make a figure in learning unless he
But his brother hated Latin as much as he
THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER. 13
himself did the flute. He was of a wild,
roving disposition, and very soon threw away
his books, and went off with the money to
learn to be a soldier.
After a time, Benvenuto came home with
his pockets full of money, and with a suit of
smart new clothes, that drew upon him the
envy of his former playfellows. And at that
identical time his brother came home too,
having spent all his money, and without
decent clothes to put on. He was very much
ashamed of his ragged condition, and as he
had several sisters, he tried to coax one of
them into helping him out of his trouble. He
said to her, "Do you not see how ragged I
am, and that I have no clothes to wear? For
pity's sake give me some, that I may cut a
better figure, and not disgrace the family."
Benvenuto happened just then to be out of
the way, and his smart new clothes were left
in his room, for I suppose he only wore them
on high days and holidays. So what do you
think his sister did? She ran up stairs and
seizing upon them, gave them to his brother.
" Here," said she, I have brought you a nice
new suit; make haste and dress yourself in it."
14 THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER.
Cecchino does not seem to have thought it
dishonest to take what did not belong to him.
He dressed himself in his brother's clothes,
and then, being as smart as he could wish, he
set off, and had taken his departure long be-
fore Benvenuto came home.
Benvenuto was, of course, very angry when
he found his clothes gone, and his brother
gone too. He had, I am sorry to say, a very
passionate temper, and he threw all the blame
upon his father, as if it had been his fault.
"How could you let me be so cruelly
wronged?" cried he, "I, who have worked
hard, and done so much for the good of the
The old man tried to soothe him as well as
he could, and told him "that it was quite
right for the one who had riches to share them
with him who had none."
This was hardly the speech to mend matters
with poor Benvenuto, who had lost his new
clothes, and had no hope of ever seeing them
again. He went up stairs in a state of great
irritation, and began to pack up all he had in
the world. Then, without giving himself
time to consider, he set off towards one of the
THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER. 15
gates of the city, that he supposed led towards
He travelled on in haste, until he reached,
-not Rome, but Pisa, with its curious lean-
ing tower, and Campo Santo, or "Holy Field,"
so called because it was filled with earth
brought from the Holy Land by the merchant
ships of Pisa.
Benvenuto was a bold brave lad, and fond
of travel and adventure. He had, besides,
plenty of money in his pocket, and he
did not feel down-hearted at finding him-
self in a strange place, so far away from
home. He stopped to look about him, and
see what, in this new city, was worth his
He had not far to look, for just across the
street was a goldsmith's shop-the most inter-
esting sight in the world to the young
The goldsmith was at work, and Benvenuto,
dusty and travel-soiled as he was, crossed over,
and stood intently looking at him.
Nothing was more delightful than to see
the goldsmith work, and Benvenuto stood so
long, and stared with such fixed attention,
16 THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER.
that the man wondered who he was, and
what he wanted.
At length he laid down his tools, and asked
him why he stood there so long.
Benvenuto was only too glad to enter into
conversation with the goldsmith. He told
him his name, and the great longing he felt
to be a goldsmith, and that he had already
done a little in that way.
Perhaps the goldsmith was struck with the
boy's eager, intelligent face, or else he must
have been in want of an apprentice. At all
events, when they had talked some time to-
gether, he invited him in, and told him he
could find him plenty of work. He then laid
some jewels before him and desired him to set
them, that he might be able to judge of his
It was very easy to judge of his abilities;
for the young stranger handled his tools in
such a masterly manner that the goldsmith
saw at once he had found a prize. He asked
him to come home with him, and take up his
abode with himself and his family; and Ben-
venuto did not hesitate to accept the offer.
I think you will be glad to hear that he
THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER. 17
did not forget his father, but remembered, the
first night of his arrival, how grieved the old
man would be to find him gone. He wrote
a letter to him, telling him where he was, and
that he was applying his whole mind to
making many beautiful things, and that he
hoped soon by his skill to get very rich and
famous. When his father received the letter,
he wrote back to say that, so great was the
love he had for his son, he longed to come
and visit him that very moment. Indeed he
thought himself deprived of the light of his
eyes every day he was without seeing him.
Above all, he begged his dear Benvenuto,
whatever he did, not to neglect practising on
The word flute gave poor Benvenuto a kind
of shudder, and took away all the wish he
might have felt to return home. Indeed.
Pisa seemed a Paradise to him, as so far
from practising on the flute, he never once
touched it. But his father, who was very
obstinate, did not give up the point.
When Benvenuto had been some time ab-
sent, he fell ill with a fever, and came home
to be nursed. His father sat by his bed-
18 THE LITTLE FLUTE PLAYER.
side, and every time he got a little better he
begged him to practise on the flute, that he
might not lose what he had learnt. Then he
would feel his son's pulse, and it was always
much worse when the flute was talked about.
At last the old man gave over, and to please
him Benvenuto had his flute brought, and sat
up in bed and played upon it so well that his
father shed tears of joy, and declared that he
would certainly become one of the best flute
players in the world!
THE BISHOP'S VASE. 19
THE BISHOP'S VASE.
SOME time after Benvenuto got well of the
fever, there came to Florence a famous sculptor
named Torrigiani, who had been to England
to follow his profession there. He was a
friend of the goldsmith with whom Cellini
now worked, and he used to come every day
to the workshop to see what was going on.
He watched Benvenuto very attentively, and
admired the skilful way in which he handled
"You are more of a sculptor than a gold-
smith," said he; "come with me to England
and you will make your fortune."
But Cellini was not fond of this man, and
did not feel any inclination to follow his
advice. Torrigiani was fierce and passionate,
and made his handsome face look quite ugly
by scowling and knitting his brows. One
day that he happened to be in the shop, he
20 THE BISHOP'S VASE.
took up a drawing that Cellini had just
finished, and began to talk about it.
Now this drawing was a copy of a cartoon
by the famous Michael Angelo, who, as I told
you, lived at this time. It represented a
number of soldiers bathing in the river Arno,
and just at that moment the trumpet sounded
to call them to battle. All was hurry and
confusion. The soldiers were rushing out of
the water ; some clambering up the bank,
others buckling on their armour, and others
already equipped running eagerly forward.
The cartoon itself is lost, and an engraving of
it is all that is left us. Torrigiani stood in
the shop of the goldsmith with Cellini's copy
in his hand.
"Ah !" cried he, "this Michael Angelo, that
all men are so fond of, used, when he was a
boy, to draw in the chapel of the great painter
Masaccio, and I went to draw there too. He
was an ill-tempered fellow, and used to ridicule
the students and treat their works with con-
tempt. But he was not going to ridicule me,
though he thought he might try. I flew into
a passion directly, and gave him such a blow
in the face with my fist that I felt his nose
THE BISHOP'S VASE. 21
give way as if it had been made of paste, and
he will carry the mark to his grave "
This speech made Benvenuto very angry.
Like everybody else, he almost worshipped
the divine Michael Angelo, as he was called,
and could not bear to hear him spoken of so
lightly. So far from wishing to go to Eng-
land with Torrigiani, he could never endure
the sight of him afterwards.
You would perhaps like to know what became
of this passionate man. People hated him so
much for his having struck their favourite
Michael Angelo, that he had to leave Florence.
He was so envious and wicked, that if any of
his fellow-students did a piece of sculpture
better than himself, he would break it to pieces
in a rage. After he had left Florence he went
to Rome, and worked some time for the Pope.
Then he came back to England, where he was
made a great fuso with for nis talent and the
beautiful things he made. He had better
have stayed in England for his own sake; but
he took it into his head to go to Spain, and
was employed by a Spanish grandee to make
a statue of the Virgin Mary. When he had
done it he expected to receive a great deal of
22 THE BISHOP'S VASE.
money; but the grandee was a miser, or else
the sculptor had asked too much. He did not
get enough to satisfy him, and, as usual, went
into a passion, and even knocked down his
own statue and dashed it to pieces !
Then the Spaniard was as angry as the
sculptor, and complained to the Inquisition
that Torrigiani had done an act of sacrilege,
and destroyed an image of the Virgin. He
was instantly seized and put into prison, and
very soon condemned to be burned alive. To
save himself from such a fate he chose an-
other almost as bad. He refused to take any
food, and starved himself to death.
I am sorry to say that Benvenuto himself
was sadly too quarrelsome, and equally fond
of giving people blows if they chanced to offend
him. He was very often getting into scrapes
of this kind; but I shall say as little, about
them as I can, for I would rather call upon
you to admire the genius of the man than spy
out his faults. I must, however, tell you that
one unlucky day he was the ringleader in a
disturbance that took place in the streets of
Florence, and had to make his escape to Rome
disguised as a monk. It was not a pleasant
THE BISHOP'S VASE. 23
mode of visiting the Eternal City, but Cellini
soon recovered his spirits, and hired himself to
a celebrated goldsmith, under whose instruc-
tion he knew he should make great progress
in his art.
But he had not been long in Rome before
a report went abroad that the young Floren-
tine, who made such beautiful chains and
crosses, and modelled shrines and saints of
exquisite beauty, was also a musician. Those
who had heard him play on his flute declared
that his music was as remarkable as his skill
in his craft. And this is, perhaps, the reason
why, one day, a gentleman came into the shop,
and addressing Benvenuto very politely, said
he wished to ask a favour of him,-would he
perform in the pope's band, at a festival that
was about to be held ?
Now Benvenuto disliked music and his flute
as much as ever. He was, besides, busily
employed in making a large silver vase for the
Bishop of Salamanca, and did not want to be
interrupted. Still he could not help thinking
how pleased his father would be to have him
stand up as one of the performers in the pope's
band; and he gave his promise to do so, know-
24 THE BISHOP'S VASE.
ing, at the same time, that it would cost him
at least two hours' practice a day on his flute.
However, he practised away famously, the
bishop's vase standing still all the while, and
soon got himself perfect in his part. When
the other musicians were ready, the whole band
performed before the pope while he was at
dinner. The pope declared he had never heard
any music that pleased him better. He was
especially charmed with the flute player; and he
called the leader of the band, and asked about
him, who he was, and where he came from.
The leader of the band replied that the
name of the young musician whose perform-
ance had so much delighted his holiness was
Benvenuto Cellini; that he was a jeweller and
goldsmith, and earned more money by that
trade than ever he could by music.
The pope took a great fancy to Benvenuto,
and thought he should like to hear him play
every day of his life. He desired the leader
of the band to go and ask him if he were
willing to become one of their number, and
receive the same salary as they did. "And
as for his ability as a goldsmith," continued
his holiness, "I am very glad to hear of it;
THE BISHOP'S VASE. 25
for the more talents a man possesses the
better. You may tell him that I can find
him plenty of employment in his craft, so
that he need not fear getting out of practice."
The leader of the band told Cellini what
the pope had said,-how he praised his per-
formance, and wished to have his name set
down as one of the band. Cellini said he
should like a day to consider about it, and
would defer giving his answer till the morrow.
When he got home he considered whether or
not he should accept the pope's offer. He
thought it would interrupt him in his beloved
profession and take up too much of his time.
Indeed, the very idea was hateful to him, and
he retired to rest quite resolved to give it up.
But when he fell asleep he dreamed that his
father came to his bedside, and, with many
tears, entreated him for his sake to accept the
place of musician to the pope.
Cellini answered that it was his firm resolve
to do nothing of the kind. Then his father's
face became so severe and threatening that he
was afraid to look at it. More than that, the
old man cried out, "If you will consent to do
as I wish, I will give you my blessing; but
26 THE BISHOP'S VASE.
if you refuse, I shall take it away from you
for ever "
Then Benvenuto awoke in a fright; and
as soon as it was day he ran off and had his
name put down as one of the pope's band.
After this was done he wrote to tell his father;
and the old man almost died of joy, and
solemnly declared that he had dreamt exactly
the same dream as the one his son had related
But this flute-playing hindered Cellini in
his work, and almost got him into trouble.
He was still busy making the vase for the
Bishop of Salamanca; and though he worked
as hard as he could, it seemed as if it would
never be done. The bishop was very im-
patient to get his vase, and said if Benvenuto
was not quicker, he should take it away from
him, and give it to some one else to finish.
Benvenuto showed him the vase, just to give
him an idea of how beautiful it would be.
But this rather did harm than good, for the
bishop now wanted it more than ever, and
sent every day to hurry him.
At last it was done, and carried to the bishop.
"Ah !" said he, taking it in his hands and
THE BISHOP'S VASE. 27
looking at it, I shall be just as slow in paying
Cellini for the vase as he has been in finishingit."
So Benvenuto had to wait for his money;
and that did not improve his temper, or make
him any better friends with the bishop.
But the vase was destined to be unlucky.
Benvenuto had made a handle to it that was
fastened by a spring. Once, when the bishop
was gone out of the room, some friends of his
took upon themselves to handle the vase, and
turn it about to examine it more thoroughly.
The handle attracted their attention the most;
but alas! it was too delicate to bear such
rough usage, and very soon one of the gentle-
men found he had broken it.
What was to be done ? The gentleman
was in a terrible fright lest the bishop should
find it out, and he sent it in a great hurry
to Benvenuto, begging and praying that he
would mend it without a moment's delay, and
he should be paid just what he asked.
"Very well," replied Benvenuto; "leave
me the vase, and by night you shall have it
back as complete as it was before."
Benvenuto kept his word; and by ten
o'clock the vase was mended, and ready to
28 THE BISHOP'S VASE.
return. Just as it was finished, in ran one
of the bishop's servants in a violent hurry.
" Quick, quick !" cried he, give me the vase.
The bishop has asked for it to show some of
his friends. Do you not hear me ? Why do
you not bring it ?"
I hear you perfectly," replied Benvenuto,
without moving an inch.
Then why do you not fetch it ?" cried the
man, laying his hand upon his sword, as if he
would take it by force.
Because I do not choose to be treated in
this manner," said Benvenuto, whose temper
was up. Go back to your master, and tell
him that I shall not let the vase go until I
am paid for it."
The messenger now saw he had done a
foolish thing, and that Cellini was not to be
trifled with. He began to beg and pray for
the vase, and promised all manner of rewards
if he might only be allowed to carry it away.
But Cellini was quite firm, and to every
fresh entreaty replied, "I will not let you
Then," replied the messenger, bursting
out of the shop in a fury, "I will bring a
THE BISHOP'S VASE. 29
body of Spaniards, and we will cut you in
There are two words to that," said Cellini;
and he took his gun and loaded it, and stood
at his shop door in an attitude of defence,
waiting to see what should happen.
Presently a crowd of Spaniards appeared at
the end of the street, with the bishop's servant
at their head, who pointed out the shop, and
told them to break it open.
"Very well !" cried Cellini, standing at the
door, and presenting the muzzle of his gun;
"the first man who dares to come near, I shall
shoot him on the spot !" Then taking aim at
the bishop's servant: "It is you," continued
he, "who have done all the mischief, and you
are the first that I shall shoot."
But the messenger hardly stayed to hear
out the threat. He turned his horse's hoofs,
and clattered off as fast as he could.
The neighbours, hearing the noise, came out
of their houses, and as everybody hated the
Spaniards, they cried out to Cellini,-
"Fire, and we will stand by you!"
The Spaniards, like the messenger, did not
wait to be shot. They took to their heels,
30 THE BISHOP'S VASE.
and went straight to the bishop's palace to
tell their master what had happened, and to
beg he would punish the goldsmith for his
The bishop, when he heard the story, was
angry with both parties. He was angry
with his servants for being so violent in the
beginning, and then running away in the end.
But he was still more angry with Cellini for
daring to keep back the vase; and he sent
him a message, that if he did not give it up
instantly, he would have him cut in pieces,
and leave nothing of his body but his ears !
Cellini did not care about this message the
least in the world. He did not send the vase;
and he threatened, in his turn, that he would
lay the matter before the pope.
But, after a little time, both Cellini and
the bishop got cooler, and began to find out
that one had been in fault as much as the
Cellini was advised to make matters up;
and one morning he put on his coat of mail,
and took his dagger in his hand, and went to
the bishop's palace,-the unlucky vase being
carried behind him.
THE BISHOP'S VASE. 31
The bishop's servants were all drawn up in
array to receive him; and as he passed through
them, holding his head as high as he could,
one looked fierce, and another scornful. But
Cellini was a match for them all; and he
marched along until he came into the presence
of the bishop. The bishop scolded and
stormed, and said a great many things that
a bishop has no right to utter. But Cellini
never answered, and never even looked at
him. At length the bishop, more angry than
ever, ordered pen and paper, and told him to
write out a receipt for his money. Upon
this Cellini did look the bishop in the face.
" I will do it with pleasure," said he coolly,
" when your lordship has given me the money,
but not before."
The bishop scolded again; but in the end
he paid the money, and sent the impertinent
goldsmith about his business. Cellini marched
through the array of servants, his money in
his pocket, and in high spirits,-laughing in
his sleeve at the bishop, and feeling that, after
all, he had had the best of it.
When this quarrel got to the ears of the
pope, he took Cellini's part, for he had seen
32 THE BISuOP'S VASE.
the vase, and very much admired it. He
thought that Cellini deserved some indul-
gence, because he was so clever in his art,
and he sent word to him that he was quite
willing to employ him. The bishop, not to
be behind-hand, despatched a messenger to
Cellini to say that he intended to give him
more work. This was because he wanted to
make up for the past; but Cellini replied
that he was ready to work for his lordship,
with only one condition,-that of being paid
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS. 33
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS.
NOT long after the events related in the last
chapter, happened the famous siege of Rome,
by Bourbon, Constable of France.
The quarrel between the emperor Charles
V. of Germany and Francis I. of France was
just then at its height. The pope (Clement
VII.) had behaved in a very undecided way,
taking part, first with one and then with the
other, so that he fell-into disgrace with both;
and at length the emperor's troops, headed by
Bourbon, appeared before Rome with intent to
take it by storm.
It seemed a terrible thing for the Con-
stable of France to be fighting on the side of
the enemies of his country, and Bourbon,
though a brave man and a good general, has
always been spoken of as a traitor. He was
shot down as he stood with a scaling ladder
in his hand, urging his troops to ascend the
34 HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS.
walls, and Cellini declares that it was he who
fired the musket by which the constable met
with his death.
When the emperor's troops had got into
Rome, they besieged the Castle of St. Angelo,
where the pope had shut himself up. He was
in a terrible fright at the idea of being taken
prisoner; but this did not prevent him from
trying to save his splendid jewels and his
Cellini was with him in the castle, together
with a crowd of faithful attendants; and one
day the pope called him into a little room,
and told him he had something very important
for him to do. He laid before him a quantity
of jewels, and desired him to take off the gold
settings, and wrap each jewel in paper by it-
self. Cellini did as he was told, and then he
hid the jewels by sewing them, wrapped in
their papers, into the skirts of the pope's
dresses, and in the clothes of one of his at-
tendants. When this was done, the pope bade
him take the gold, in which the jewels had
been set, and melt it down. Cellini carried
the gold away to his own room, where he shut
himself in, and made a furnace of bricks, and
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS. 35
fastened a little dish to the bottom of the
furnace. Then he threw the gold upon the
burning coals, and as it melted, it dropped
down into the dish below. While this melt-
ing process was going on, he beguiled the time
by firing at the enemy through the loopholes
in the wall, and doing them all the mischief he
could. At last his task was completed, and he
carried the gold to the pope, who thanked him
heartily, and ordered one of his servants to
pay him for his trouble.
The pope held out in his castle until he was
obliged to surrender for want of provisions.
He was then kept close prisoner, and though
all Europe styled him the head of the Church,
he was exposed to many indignities. The
soldiers put cardinals' robes over their armour,
and met in one of the chapels of the Vatican,
and pretended to depose him with a great
noise and uproar. And who do you think
was elected in his stead ? No other than the
famous reformer, Martin Luther, who would
have been shocked beyond measure at the idea,
as Popery in every form was what he was
In the end, the pope paid a large sum of
36 HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS.
money for his freedom; and even then was not
really free, for he was watched and guarded
by the emperor's troops as if he had been a
captain of banditti. This became so hateful
to him, that one day he contrived to make his
escape in the disguise of a merchant, and with
scarcely a single attendant.
The sack of Rome was long remembered
with horror, for the pillage and slaughter had
been so great. I need not dwell upon the
subject, although I must allude to one almost
as painful. I mean the plague that broke out
first among the emperor's troops, and was be-
lieved to be a judgment of Heaven for the harsh
manner in which they had treated the pope.
It spread, like a desolating scourge, from one
city to another, over the greater part of Italy,
and whole families were swept away by it.
It raged at Florence with great fury, and
not all the religious processions of the people,
or their prayers to every saint in the Romish
calendar, could stay it in the least.
Benvenuto got away from Rome after the
Castle of St. Angelo had surrendered; and he
went home to tell his father his adventures,
and to give him some of the money he had
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS. 37
earned. The old man had quite made up his
mind that his son was killed, or at least had
lost all he had in the world. But though he
was transported with joy at seeing him safe
and sound, he was not willing for him to stay
more than a few hours, lest he should fall a
victim to the plague, which was just then at
Perhaps Benvenuto saved his life by follow-
ing his father's advice. He went the next
day to Mantua, and was very kindly received
by the duke, who took him into his service,
and promised to provide for him.
But he had not been long in Mantua before
he was attacked by a fever that made him
very delirious. He said all manner of bitter
things about Mantua, and abused the duke
Now, the duke's goldsmith was jealous of
the new favourite, and he chose to repeat every
word to his master, forgetting that it was the
mere raving of a man in a fever.
The duke was offended, and when Cellini
got better he treated him very coldly; Cellini
then was offended too, and determined to go
back to Rome, which had now become quiet
38 HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS.
again, and where he knew he should be well
received by the pope.
But he first resolved to pay another visit
home, and see if the family were all safe.
Accordingly, he set off for Florence, with his
pockets full of money that had been paid him
by the duke.
When he reached Florence, he went to his
father's house, and knocked at the door. No
one opened it, but an ugly old woman put her
head out of the window, and asked him what
he wanted. Then, without waiting for an
answer, she cried out, "Go away this instant!
who knows but you may have the plague, and
I shall catch it with only looking at you !"
Is there nobody in the house but yourself,
with your unlucky, illboding face ?" retorted
The old woman did not condescend to reply.
Perhaps she thought her life was in danger,
for she drew in her head and shut the window.
Then a casement in the next house was
cautiously opened, and another woman peeped
out to see who it was. "Alas, poor Benvenuto!"
cried she in a tone of pity, "thou art come
home at a sorry time. Thy father and all
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS. 39
thy family are dead of the plague, and no one
is left to welcome thee except thy sister, and
she is from home."
Cellini was cut to the heart by this melan-
choly news, though he had half suspected it
when the old woman put out her head, and
such cases were very common just then. He
turned sadly from the spot and retraced his
steps to an inn, thinking as he went how
lonely and desolate his situation was become,
with home and friends all swept away.
But things were not quite so bad as he
thought. On the road he met a friend, who
told him that, in spite of what the neighbours
said, his brother was still living, and was even
now in a house close by. This was a great
comfort to poor Benvenuto, who hastened to
find him; and he and his brother remained
some time locked in each other's arms before
either could speak.
I heard you were dead!" cried one. "And
I heard you were dead !" cried another; and
both laughed for joy at finding each was alive.
They then set off to go to their sister, that the
little remnant of the family might spend the
40 HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS.
When the sister saw her two brothers
(whom she supposed to have died of the
plague) walk into the room, she was so much
alarmed that she fainted away. However,
she soon recovered, and then they all supped
together with great joy and thankfulness.
By this time the pope had got over his
troubles with the emperor, and had made
peace with him. But he had now a quarrel
with Florence, and declared war against it.
The Florentines put their city in a state of
defence, and the young men practised them-
selves in the art of war. While this was
going on Cellini had a letter from a friend of
his in Rome, entreating him to go there in-
stantly, and not to join with his rebellious
fellow-citizens against the pope. He added
that his holiness wished very much to employ
him in several works of importance.
Cellini was in great alarm at this letter; for
if it had been found out that he was in corre-
spondence with the pope, the citizens would
have put him to death. On the other hand,
he did not like to offend the pope, and secretly
wished to go to Rome.
By-and-by he had another letter, and then
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS. 41
another, containing the same proposal, and
wishing him to set off without further delay.
So at length he did set off, having locked up
his house in Florence, and left the keys in the
care of a friend.
When Cellini got to Rome, he found the
pope was ill, and obliged to keep his room.
But no sooner did he hear that the young
goldsmith had arrived from Florence, than
he sent for him and had him brought to his
He was very impatient to set him to work;
but Cellini had something on his mind that
he wanted to speak about first. He humbly
kissed the feet of his holiness, and whispered
that he had a confession to make in private,
and after that business matters might be
"Holy father," said he, "when I melted
down the gold for you in the Castle of St.
Angelo, you desired me to be paid for my
trouble. Instead of that, I got nothing but
hard words. I was much provoked, and went
to the furnace where some of the gold still
remained. I removed the ashes, and took out
a quantity of metal that had run into little
42 HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS.
grains. I had not enough money to carry
myself home, and I intended to use the gold,
and afterwards repay it to your holiness when
I had the opportunity." Benvenuto concluded
by asking the pope to give him absolution,
after the practice of the Romish Church.
The pope sighed at the remembrance of
his troubles in the Castle of St. Angelo. But
he gave Cellini absolution, and wished him to
keep the gold as payment for his services.
He then desired him to come again in a few
days, and he would direct him what to do.
When Cellini paid his next visit the pope re-
ceived him very kindly.
"What I want you to do," said he, "is to
make a button for my pontifical cope.- I wish
to have my large diamond set in the middle,
and a border of other jewels round it. But
you must finish the work with great speed,
as I am anxious to have the pleasure of wear-
ing it; so go and make your design imme-
Cellini went off in high spirits to make a
model of the button, and shut himself up to
work at it.
Now, when the other goldsmiths in Rome
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS. 43
knew what the pope had done, and that he
had given this commission into the hands of
a Florentine goldsmith, they were very angry
and jealous at being passed over and not em-
ployed upon it themselves. They sent a
message to the pope, saying, "We have seen
the design of Benvenuto, and do not think it
a good one. If your holiness will permit us
to lay before you the models we have been
making ourselves, you can choose from among
them the one you think proper."
The pope replied he would consider about
the matter, and if Cellini failed to please him
he would seek out a better workman. But
he refused to look at their designs until that
of Cellini should be finished. He would then
inspect them altogether.
In the meantime Cellini had finished a wax
model of the button, and brought it to the
pope; upon which the pope sent to the other
goldsmiths in haste to bring their designs, as
this was the proper moment for him to inspect
them. The goldsmiths hurried to the palace,
and laid their models before the pope, who
took up first one and then another-Cellini's
remaining as yet shut up in its box.
44 HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS.
Now, this gorgeous button that was to fasten
the cope of his holiness was to be as large as
a trencher, and the image of the divine Being
was to be represented in it; for in a Catholic
country such representations are not considered
sinful as they are with us. All the goldsmiths
had committed a great blunder. They had
laid the diamond, large and splendid as it was,
exactly in the breast of the figure, and com-
pletely spoiled its effect. The pope saw the
error in a minute, and as it was just the
same in every model he took up, he grew tired
of looking at them, and at length turned to
"Give me the box," said he, "and let me
see if you have fallen into the same mistake."
But Cellini had not fallen into the mistake,
and here his genius shone out above his
He had laid the diamond in the middle of
the button, and placed the figure above it, in
a sitting posture, with the right hand lifted
up as if in the act of blessing; and a mantle was
thrown over the shoulders so lightly that it
seemed almost to wave in the wind. Under-
neath the diamond were the figures of three
HIDING THE POPE'S JEWELS. 45
children who supported it in their arms, and
round it were set the jewels, interspersed with
other figures of children.
The pope was highly delighted with this
beautiful model, and instantly made choice of
it; upon which the goldsmiths had to retire
The pope then gave Cellini a handsome
sum of money, and told him to begin to work.
He also conferred on him the office of stamp-
master to the mint, in spite of the efforts of
his enemies to prevent it.
One of these enemies, who wanted the office
for himself, entreated the pope at least to
wait a little time. But the pope replied
sharply, "I insist upon your drawing out the
commission, since the very shoes of Benvenuto
are more valuable than the eyes of all these
46 THE ROBBER.
CELLINI now opened a handsome shop, and
employed five workmen. The pope had sent
him his jewels to reset, and he had other work
in gold and silver, so that his shop was full of
It happened that a cunning thief had his
eye upon this treasure, and determined to rob
the shop, and carry off as much as he could.
He pretended to be a goldsmith, and came in
and out, as if he wished to see how Cellini
was getting on, and to admire his skill. By
this means he found out where the pope's
jewels were kept, and how he might the most
easily break in and steal them. When he had
gained all the information he wanted, he went
away, and Cellini saw no more of him.
But one hot summer's night, when all the
workmen were fast asleep, this wicked thief
came stealing down the street, and very soon
THE ROBBER. 47
contrived to break into the shop. The pope's
jewels were what he wanted, but he pocketed
sundry smaller jewels by the way, and broke
open the caskets, one after the other.
He went on ransacking until his proceed-
ings were stopped by a fierce bark, and a
great dog flew at him. The dog was left to
watch the shop, and seeing it being robbed, he
attacked the thief with such fury that he had
to draw his sword to defend himself. Then
the dog bounced into the room, where the
workmen were asleep, barking loudly. The
workmen were very tired and sleepy, and
took no notice, though the dog pulled at the
bed-clothes, and did all he could to make them
get up. Instead of understanding what he
meant they tried to drive him away; and,
angry at being disturbed, they turned him out
and locked the door.
Meanwhile the robber had taken fright, and
scampered off down the street, carrying with
him whatever he could lay his hands on.
But he had not yet done with the dog, for
the faithful animal ran after him and attacked
him again. Some people came out to see
what was the matter, and the thief cried out
48 THE ROBBER.
that he was being attacked by a mad dog,
and begged them to help him. They thought
he spoke the truth, and contrived to beat off
the dog, and let the thief get away with his
The next morning the workmen got up as
usual and went into the shop, when, behold, it
was all in confusion, the caskets standing open,
and their contents gone! They uttered a cry
of despair, and Cellini, hearing them, came
hurrying to the spot. Alas!" cried they, "we
are undone! a robber has broken into the
shop and carried off everything !"
Cellini stood a few moments unable to
move from terror. The thought of the pope's
jewels flashed across his mind. He dared
not look into the chest where he had put
them, lest they should be there no longer.
But he said in a trembling voice to one of the
"Open the chest and see if the jewels are
"No, no!" shouted the workmen, "they are
safe. The pope's jewels are safe!"
"Then there is no great harm done," cried
Cellini, overjoyed, and he set off at once to
THE ROBBER. 49
see the pope, lest he might have heard of the
robbery and be in alarm about his jewels.
The pope had heard of the robbery, and
was in great alarm. An enemy of Cellini's
had been talking to him, and saying that, no
doubt, the jewels were gone, and very likely
Cellini himself had stolen them, and then
made up the story of the robber. This was
the reason why the pope looked stern and
harsh when Cellini came in, and he said
angrily, "What do you want here? And what
is the matter ?"
"Holy father," replied Cellini humbly, "I
had the misfortune to have my shop robbed
last night, but here are your jewels. I have
brought them with me, that you may be quite
sure they are safe."
"Then indeed you are welcome!" said the
pope, getting back his good humour, and
alluding to the name Benvenuto, which means
A little time after, as Cellini was walking
in the streets, his dog with him, the animal
suddenly flew at a young man, and attacked
him with such fury that he seemed as if
he would tear him to pieces. The guards
50 THE ROBBER.
came running to the spot, and tried to get the
dog away. But it was of no use, for the ani-
mal flew at him again, and did not care either
for swords or sticks.
Then the guards shouted to Cellini to call
off his dog, or the young man would certainly
be killed. Cellini called him off, and the
young man tried to get away as fast as he
could. But, in his haste, he dropped some
jewels from under his cloak, and among them
was a ring that Cellini knew to be his own.
"Ah!" cried he, "this is the villain who
robbed my shop!" and he let loose his dog
The thief saw clearly it was no use to deny
his guilt or to try to escape.
"For Heaven's sake call off the dog," said
he, "and I will give you back all that I took
out of your shop!"
Cellini called off the dog, and the thief gave
up a number of gold and silver rings, and
other articles of value, and begged and prayed
"Go your way," said Cellini, "and ask God
to forgive you. For my part, I shall do you
neither good nor harm."
THE ROBBER. 51
But the thief did not escape so easily. It
was found out, by the jewels that dropped
from his cloak, that he had been guilty of
more robberies. He was condemned to be
hanged, and Cellini's character was cleared
from the slightest suspicion of having told an
52 THE CHALICE.
THE pope was so much pleased with his mag-
nificent button, that he set Cellini to work
upon another, and quite as difficult an under-
taking. He told him to make a design for a
chalice or cup, to be used at the holy com-
Cellini made a beautiful model of this chalice.
It was supported on three figures, representing
faith, hope, and charity, by way of a stem.
On its foot three stories were depicted, one
was the nativity of Christ, another his resur-
rection, and the third was the martyrdom of
While Cellini was at work on the chalice,
the pope asked a great many times to be al-
lowed to see it. He grew impatient to have
it finished, and sent one of his servants every
day to know how it was getting on. And
when he had to leave Rome for a short time,
THE CHALICE. 53
he sent a messenger desiring Cellini to come
to the palace, and bring his work with him.
Cellini obeyed the summons, and with the
chalice in his hand, was ushered into the pope's
"If it please your holiness," said he, "the
most important part of the chalice is done.
But I must have money to buy more gold be-
fore the whole can be completed.
To this the pope made no reply, and merely
told him to go home and get his work done as
quickly as he could.
The pope set out on his journey, but he left
his legate behind him to manage matters while
he should be absent.
And be sure you hurry on Cellini with.the
chalice," was his last injunction, so that it
may be finished when I come back."
Now, Cellini, as we have seen, was by no
means easy to manage, and the legate was
about the worst person in the world to manage
In a few days he sent for Cellini and desired
him to bring the chalice.
Cellini went to the palace readily enough,
but left the chalice behind him.
54 THE CHALICE.
Where is this fantastical work of yours ?"
cried the legate; "why have you not finished
Most reverend sir," replied Cellini, getting
angry already, at having his work spoken of
in that manner, my fantastical work, as you
please to call it, is not finished, nor can it be
unless you give me the money to buy more
Then the legate flew into a passion, and
threatened to send Cellini on board a galley,
to work there until he should only be too glad
to finish the chalice.
My lord," replied Cellini, who was a match
for the legate in point of temper, when I have
committed a crime you are at liberty to send
me to the galleys, but not for leaving the chalice
unfinished. Nay, what is more, as you have
treated me so ill I will not finish the work
at all, and if you send for me I will not come
unless I am dragged here by main force!"
The legate saw at once it was of no use
scolding, so he altered his tone, and begged
Cellini to go on with the chalice, and bring it
for him to look at.
But Cellini was obstinate in his refusal,
THE CHALICE. 55
and, with some reason, all the reply he made
Tell his holiness to send me the materials
and I will finish the chalice."
The legate very soon grew weary of talking,
and sent Cellini home, and never asked him
to come again. But he wrote a letter to the
pope complaining bitterly of his conduct, and
saying all manner of things against him. When
the pope came home, he asked where was
Cellini, and where was the chalice. The legate
told him that the chalice was yet unfinished,
and this made his holiness very angry, and he
ordered Cellini to bring it to the palace imme-
While the pope had been away, Cellini
suffered from an affection of the eyes, and he
felt really afraid he should lose his sight. He
thought this a good excuse for not having
finished his work, and taking the chalice under
his cloak, he set off for the palace. He in-
tended, while the pope was looking at it, to
tell him how ill he had been, and so prevent
his being angry.
But things turned out rather worse than he
expected. No sooner had the pope taken the
56 THE CHALICE.
chalice in his hand, and perceived that it was
pretty much in the same state as when he went,
than he flew into a rage, and cried out he had
a great mind to throw Cellini and his work out
of the window together. He went on scolding
for a long time, and then Cellini took up his
chalice, put it under his cloak, and turned to
go, muttering as he went, "All the people in
the world cannot make a blind man finish
"What are you saying ?" cried the pope,
stopping short, but still speaking very
Cellini hesitated a minute, and hardly knew
whether he should run down stairs or answer
the pope's question. At last he fell on his
knees and said,-
"I have been nearly blind, and yet your
holiness expects me to have finished my work.
I ask if it is reasonable ?"
You could see well enough to come here,"
replied the pope in a milder tone. I do not
believe a word you say."
Cellini took courage as the pope altered his
tone, and told him how rudely the legate had
behaved, and if a physician might be consulted
THE CHALICE. 57
he would declare he was speaking the truth,
and that his eyes were very much affected. He
had not been able to use them since the pope
He then retired, and the pope reproved the
legate for his rough behaviour. He said he
should ask his physician about the disorder in
the eyes, and that if it were true he should be
inclined to forgive Benvenuto. Poor Ben-
venuto was ill for a very long time, and had
all the doctors in Rome to attend him. But
as soon as he got better the pope sent him
word to finish the chalice.
Cellini replied that he desired nothing more
earnestly than to do so, and if it could be made
of any other material than gold he would finish
it out of his own pocket. But gold he must
have, or the chalice would never be done.
Take care what you are about," said the
messenger, "nothing makes the pope so angry
as to be asked for money."
I cannot help it," replied Cellini, "perhaps
you will have the goodness to tell me how bread
can be made without flour. I shall then know
how to finish the chalice without gold."
The messenger felt the truth of Cellini's
58 THE CHALICE.
words, and he went and told the pope exactly
how the matter stood. But the pope would
not be pacified, and declared that if Cellini did
not go on with his work he would punish him
Thingswenton in this way until one morning
two gentlemen came to Benvenuto's house, and
asked to speak with him. The pope," said
they, "has sent us to you because you have be-
haved so ill about the chalice. You must now
either give it up to us, or else we have orders
to convey you to prison."
"Gentlemen," replied Cellini, "the chalice
in its present state belongs to me and not to
the pope. I do not choose to give it up to
some ignorant fellow to spoil the work I have
wrought with so much care. I would rather
go to prison."
"Then you must come with us," said the
gentlemen, and they placed him between them
and led him off to prison. The governor of
the prison was sorry that Benvenuto had got
into such a scrape, and did all he could to per-
suade him to give up the chalice. But Cellini
was obstinate to the last degree, and refused,
even if he died for it.
THE CHALICE. 59
Then the governor said : Before I commit
you to prison I have one word to say to you.
It is the pleasure of his- holiness that you
should bring the chalice to me. I will put it
in a box, and carefully seal it up, and carry it
to the palace. The pope has promised faith-
fully that he will not open the box, but return
it to you sealed up as it is. You can then go
to your own house, and he will not have
broken his word, for he declared unless you
sent him the chalice, you should be put in
Very well, I have no objection to that,"
said Benvenuto laughing, I should like to see
what dependence is to be placed on the word
of a pope."
Accordingly Benvenuto sent for his chalice,
and the governor sealed it up in a box, and
carried it to the pope.
The pope took the box in his hand, turned
it about, and looked at it on all sides. At
length he asked the governor if he had seen the
chalice. The governor replied he had, and
thought it very beautiful indeed.
"Then," said his holiness, "you may tell
Benvenuto that the pope has power to loose
60 THE CHALICE.
and bind things of much greater consequence
than this." And while he was speaking he
opened the box, taking off the cord and break-
ing the seal. The pope was as much pleased
with the chalice as the governor was; and he
desired him to ask Cellini whether he would part
with it in its present state, or whether he would
finish it, for if he would he might take his
own time and have all the help he needed.
Now, if the governor had delivered the mes-
sage properly, there would have been nothing
the matter. But instead of that, he went back
to Cellini and said to him very roughly, "Here
is your box. The pope has opened it, for he
has power to do as he likes, and loose and bind
the whole world."
Well !" cried Benvenuto in just indigna-
tion, I know now, at all events, what value
to set on the word of a pope!"
"And he orders you to finish it," continued
the governor, "or else give it up to him, and
have nothing more to do with it."
I shall do neither the one nor the other!"
said Benvenuto haughtily. "I shall take back
the money I have already received, and do
what I please with the chalice."
THE CHALICE. 61
He then set off at once to the pope's
jeweller, carrying the five hundred crowns he
had already received for the gold with him.
The pope made quite sure Benvenuto would
finish his work, and he was very vexed when
his jeweller came and told him that the money
had been sent back.
This man, whose name was Pompeo, was a
great enemy of Cellini, and was delighted to
think that the pope had quarrelled with him.
He came in smiling to relate to the pope what
had happened. But the pope turned upon
him very sharply. He said he particularly
wanted the chalice, and that he must go to
Benvenuto's shop, and try to make matters
up, for if he only finished it he should have
whatever he pleased to ask.
Pompeo did not much like his errand, but
he dared not refuse to go. He went very
slowly and reluctantly, and called Cellini out
of his shop, saying he had an important mes-
sage to deliver. Then he made a great many
fine speeches, and ended by asking him to
finish the chalice.
"I am quite willing to do whatever his
holiness wishes," replied Benvenuto, and sin-
62 THE CHALICE.
cerely hope to get back his favour, which I
have lost through illness and the mischief-
making of such people as you are. If, there-
fore the pope, sets any store by your life he will
never send you on an errand to me again, as
I shall certainly fall upon you and treat you
as you deserve."
The goldsmith knew he had done Cellini a
great many ill turns, and he slunk out of the
shop and hurried back to the pope, to repeat
every word that had been said, and to add as
many disagreeable speeches of his own as he
Cellini had no further messages, but at-
tended to his shop and his business, and thus
the matter rested for a time.
KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION. 6(
KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION.
POOR Benvenuto was destined to get into
scrapes, partly from his own temper, and partly
from the malice of his enemies.
One day, as he was walking through the
streets, he met a friend of his, named Bene-
detto. Now this man had a quarrel with
Cellini's partner in the business, and as he
happened to be just at that moment in a pas-
sion, he began to storm at Benvenuto, and to
say that both he and his partner were rogues.
Benvenuto answered him gently at first, and
said he did not know what made him so angry,
and, if he had a quarrel with his partner, he
had better go and settle it with him, and not
fall upon an innocent person who had nothing
to do with it. But the foolish man still went
on making a great noise, so that a crowd
gathered round him. At last, Benvenuto,
instead of going away and leaving him to have
64 KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION.
it out by himself, got angry too-for Italians
are very hot-blooded. He stooped down and
picked up a lump of earth, and threw at him.
Now, when passionate people once give the
reins to their tempers, no one can foresee the
amount of mischief that may be done in a
moment. And so it happened that a piece of
sharp flint lay hidden in the clod of earth, and
struck the unfortunate Benedetto just on his
head. He fell down insensible, and all the
bystanders thought he was killed on the spot.
At the same moment there came down the
street one of Benvenuto's worst enemies.
This was Pompeo, the jeweller, to whom he
had paid back the money for the chalice, and
who owed him more grudges than one.
"What is the matter?" asked he, going to
Benedetto, as he lay stretched upon the ground.
" Who has killed the poor man?"
"Cellini," replied the bystanders; "but it
was the simpleton's own fault, he should not
have provoked him."
This was enough for Pompeo to know. He
did not even stay to find out who the injured
man was. He flew to the pope's palace, and
was admitted into his presence. Most holy
KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION. 65
father," exclaimed he, quite of breath, Ben-
venuto Cellini has committed murder. He
has killed Tobbia, the goldsmith!"
Tobbia was a very clever goldsmith, who
had once been condemned to death for making
false coin. But a gentleman, who was a
patron of his, wrote to the pope and begged
he would forgive him. And he added in his
letter: "If your holiness will send for this man
to Rome, and employ him, you will find he
works as well as your favourite Cellini; and it
will do Cellini good, to have a rival, seeing he
is so proud and so passionate."
So Tobbia was pardoned, and sent for to
Rome, and you may suppose there was not
much love lost between him and Cellini.
The pope was very angry when he heard
that Tobbia lay dead in the street, and he
gave orders to have Cellini seized and hanged
instantly. For when justice was administered
at all in that country, it was done in a very
summary manner, and Cellini was not to be
allowed a trial.
He was, as you may think, in peril of his
life, and it must have come into his mind, as
he hurried away from the spot, how foolish and
66 KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION.
wicked he had been. Half an hour ago he
was a free man, thriving in his business, and
with a quiet conscience; now he was only free
so long as he could hide himself from the
guards, and had before him the prospect of a
He went to the house of one of his friends,
and began to prepare, as quickly as he could
for leaving the city. His friend lent him a
capital horse; and fully armed for defence,
he mounted it and set off towards the gate
leading to Naples. He had not gone far when
he perceived a body of guards drawn up before
him. But thanks to his swift horse and his
daring spirit, he galloped through them, and
cleared the city without being captured. He
proceeded to Naples, where he intended to re-
main until the matter should be blown over.
That same evening, while Benvenuto was
hurrying on towards Naples, a fugitive under
sentence of death, the pope, who had got
rather cooler, sent one of his servants to
inquire after Tobbia, and find out if he were
The man proceeded to the goldsmith's shop,
expecting to see it shut up and the house
KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION. 67
filled with mourners; but no such thing.
There was Tobbia sitting at work as quietly
as possible, and with nothing at all the
Dear me !" cried the messenger, "I heard
that Benvenuto Cellini had knocked you down
and killed you."
"He was not very likely to do that," replied
Tobbia, looking up in surprise, and thinking
the man was jesting; I have not even seen
him to-day, nor have I the least idea what
Then it came out that it was not Tobbia,
and that the man who was knocked down was
not killed, but stunned, and had every chance
of getting well again. Cellini had not killed
anybody, and yet he had been obliged to fly
from Rome without any means of speaking in
his own defence, and this through the mischief-
making of Pompeo.
The pope turned his anger against Pompeo
and said he deserved severe punishment, and
hoped Cellini would give it him when he came
back. Then he told one of his cardinals to
send for Cellini home again, as he could ill
afford to lose him, and to give him a
68 KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION.
safe conduct lest he should be afraid to
I shall soon have done with Pope Clement
for his reign was drawing to a close. He re-
ceived Cellini very kindly on his return, and
gave him some medals to stamp. One of
these medals had the head of the pope on one
side, and the figure representing peace on the
other. Peace was a female figure in light
drapery, with a torch in her hand; a heap of
arms tied together lay at her feet, and the
figure of Discord was bound by chains in a
temple close by.
While Cellini was working on this medal,
the man he had wounded got well again,
though he declared he would rather have died
to spite Cellini.
The pope was so much pleased with Cellini's
medal, that he asked him to model another
picture for the same medal (making two on
the reverse side). He wished to have the
story of Moses striking the rock, and the rea-
son why he fixed upon this subject was because
he was once at the city of Orvieto, where there
is scarcely any water to be had, for it is built
upon a rock a long distance from any spring.
KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION. 69
The pope ordered a well to be cut through the
solid rock to the depth of two hundred and
sixty-five feet. The well had two flights of
steps, one above the other, to ascend and
descend, so constructed that even the beasts
of burden could venture down them. When
they had reached the bottom of this flight
of two hundred and forty steps, they reached
a bridge where they were loaded with skins
of water. Then, without turning back, they
went up the other flight of steps, and made
their exit by a different way to the one by
which they had entered.
This work was nearly completed, when
Cellini designed the medal of Moses striking
Benvenuto made great haste to finish the
medal, but, while he was doing it, the pope was
taken very ill indeed, and his physicians pro-
nounced him in danger. Pompeo took ad-
vantage of the pope's being laid up, and hired
assassins to kill Cellini, so that Cellini had
always to be on his guard. However, he
completed his medal, and carried it to the
The pope was in bed; but he had Cellini up
70 KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION.
into his room, that he might see the medal.
His sight was failing fast, and he had his
spectacles brought, and a lamp lighted. But,
alas! he could not discern anything, and he
tried to feel what it was like. He expressed
great concern for Cellini; for he knew how
many enemies he had, and that he had been
paid very little for his trouble. He promised
that if he got well he would reward him hand-
somely; but the promise was not worth much,
for the pope died a few days afterwards, and
Cellini had no reward whatever.
Apart from this disappointment, Cellini was
really very sorry when the pope was dead, and
mourned over him. He went to see him as he
lay in state, and kissed his feet, and wept
bitterly, and then shut himself up in his own
house to give way to serious thought. It had
been well if his serious thoughts had been more
to the purpose. But just then, his great
enemy, Pompeo, happened to be passing, and
was wicked enough to stop and say a string of
aggravating speeches, and try to provoke
Cellini to a quarrel.
Cellini took no notice for a time, and then
Pompeo went away and boasted that Cellini
KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION. 71
was afraid to fight him. This was too much
for Benvenuto, who went out after him and
met him just as he was coming out of a shop
where he had been amusing himself and his
friends by abusing Cellini.
Cellini struck at him without the least in-
tention of killing him; but the blow fell
exactly under the ear, and was fatal in an
This was the second time Cellini was in a
terrible scrape, and again he would have to
fly for his life. Fortunately for him the new
pope, Paul III., had sent for him, and declared
that no one else should stamp his coins. When
he heard the story of Pompeo's death, he made
excuses for Cellini on account of the provoca-
tion he had met with. Besides, the pope did
not want to lose the services of such a clever
man just at the beginning of his reign, and he
hit upon a plan of getting him out of trouble.
In the month of August a festival would be
held in honour of the virgin, and on such
occasions twelve criminals were pardoned. It
was easy to include Cellini amongst the num-
ber; but because his offence had been so great
and the guards were in search of him to carry
72 KILLING A MAN IN A PASSION.
him to prison, the pope made out a safe con-
duct and sent it to him at once, that he might
be able to go and come (until the time of
the festival arrived) without any fear of
CELLINI IN PRISON. 73
CELLINI IN PRISON.
BEFORE Cellini received his pardon he had
another severe illness; indeed, for a few hours
he was thought to be dead, and one of his
friends wrote a sonnet in memory of his un-
But, in spite of this, he got better, and
lived to be an old man, and to complete a
great many beautiful things. Amongst others
was the cover for a book* that the pope wished
to present to the emperor, Charles V., who
was expected to visit Rome.
This cover was very magnificent; it was of
massive gold, richly chased, and adorned with
Cellini was too weak, in consequence of his
illness, to work as hard as usual, and so the
cover for the book was not finished in time.
But he presented it, incomplete as it was, to
Containing an office of the virgin with illuminations
74 CELLINI IN PRISON.
the emperor in the name of the pope, and
made a long speech, in which he told him of his
illness, and how the pope not only offered his
majesty the book, but also Cellini's services
to finish it, or to do whatever else he wished.
The emperor made a very gracious reply,
and said he had seen the button made for
Pope Clement, and admired it exceedingly;
and he ended by inviting Cellini to his court
as soon as he should be well enough to come.
But, some little time after, the pope began
to grow cold to his favourite. Perhaps Cel-
lini's arrogance and conceit, or the backbitings
of his enemies, might have something to do
with it. At all events, there was a misun-
derstanding between him and his holiness, and
Cellini went off to France, and sought the
patronage of King Francis the First. He
met with a very gracious reception, and might
have stayed there in peace as long as he
liked, if he had not had a return of his illness,
that brought with it an intense longing for
his native country. With his usual impetu-
osity he set off on horseback, and with only
a single attendant, and after a journey full of
adventures, found himself in Rome.
CELLINI IN PRISON. 75
King Francis was very sorry when he heard
that Cellini had left him so abruptly, and he
sent a message after him to invite him back,
and to offer him a handsome salary.
Cellini replied that he had more business in
Rome than he could attend to; but, if it was
nis majesty's pleasure, he would certainly lay
it all aside and return to France.
But before he could do anything a sudden
misfortune came upon him.
Early one morning, after working some
time at the jewels he was busy setting, he
took a turn through the streets to refresh
himself. He had not gone far before he met the
captain of the city guard, with a body of men.
The captain stopped. "You are the pope's
prisoner," said he roughly.
"You are mistaken," cried Cellini; "I am
no man's prisoner. You must be thinking of
some one else."
"Not at all," replied the captain. "I
know you quite well. You are Benvenuto
Cellini, the famous goldsmith. I have orders
to conduct you to the castle of St. Angelo,
where many men of genius have been shut up
76 CELLINI IN PRISON,
He then asked Cellini, who was stupified
with surprise, to give up his arms, and led
him away prisoner. For a whole week Cel-
lini lay in prison. He was then brought out,
and, for the first time, knew what it was all
about, and why he had been seized.
He was led into the hall of the castle,
where several persons were assembled, among
whom was the governor of Rome.
The governor said to him, We know very
well that at the sack of Rome, you, Cellini,
were with Pope Clement in this very castle of
St. Angelo. His holiness employed you to
take out the precious stones from his crown
and his mitre and his rings; for he had great
confidence in your honesty. You took advan-
tage of this to secrete, for your own use, jewels
to the value of eighty thousand crowns, un-
known to any one. One of your workmen
has told us the whole story, and that you
afterwards boasted of the trick. We cor
mand you to find the jewels that are missing,
or else pay us the value of them in money.
You can then be set at liberty."
Cellini defended himself from this sudden
attack in a very long speech, setting forth the
CELLINI IN PRISON. 77
important service he had rendered the pope
during that time of danger. He ended by
wholly denying the charge, and declaring that
the jewels were in the pope's possession; and
that he had got nothing for his pains but
wounds and bruises, and reckoned upon nothing
but a very trifling reward that Pope Paul had
The gentlemen looked at each other when
Cellini had finished speaking, and then went
to tell the pope what he had said.
The pope gave orders that a diligent search
should be made for the jewels, and, after all,
none were found to be missing. But Cellini
was still kept in prison, though the King of
France took the trouble of interceding for
The constable of the castle was a native of
Florence, and he treated Cellini very kindly,
and allowed him to walk about the castle,
simply on giving his word of honour that he
would not escape. He even permitted him
to go on with his work as a goldsmith; and
his servant came backwards and forwards,
bringing him wax and gold, and what mate-
rials he wanted.
78 CELLINI IN PRISON.
Many of the soldiers in the castle advised
Cellini to make his escape, but he refused to
do it, lest he should be guilty of breaking
his word. Now, Cellini had for his fellow-
prisoner a monk, who was a very clever
and artful man. He kept constantly say-
ing that Cellini need not consider it any sin
to break his word, for it was always excus-
able for a prisoner to make his escape when
he could. But Cellini was proof against the
temptation, and would not give ear to him.
The monk then tried another plan.
Suppose, now," said he, "that you were
really bent on making your escape, and had not
given your word to the constable, how should
you set about it ?"
"Easily enough," replied Cellini, his natu-
ral love of boasting getting the better of him.
"My skill is so great that I could open every
lock in the castle as easily as I could eat a
bit of cheese."
"Oh!" said the monk in a doubting tone;
"you men of genius make great boasts; but
when it comes to the point, very few of you
can perform what you promise. For my part,
I do not believe a word you say I"
CELLINI IN PRISON. 79
This put Cellini on his mettle, and he be-
gan to brag largely of what he could do, say-
ing that opening the locks was a mere trifle.
Indeed, so great was his folly, that he described
to the monk the whole process of making false
keys, and how, by means of them, he could
open any door in the castle that he pleased.
The monk pretended not to pay much atten-
tion; but in reality he devoured every word
Cellini uttered, and made himself quite master
of the subject.
All the while they were talking, Cellini
went on with his work, which happened to be
moulding little figures in wax. The monk,
whose eye was upon him, watched his oppor-
tunity, and stole a piece of wax. With this
he made a number of false keys, exactly as
Cellini had told him how.
But he did not manage matters well. His
false keys were discovered, and thought to
have been made by Cellini, the only one of
the prisoners who was working in wax.
The constable reproached Cellini with being
ungrateful, and had him shut up very closely,
and not allowed to walk about the castle any
80 CELLINI IN PRISON.
Cellini could not understand at first what
the constable meant; but at length one of the
servants ran and fetched the wax and the
model of a key.
See," cried he, what comes of treating
you so kindly, and letting you go on with your
Cellini now perceived how unfairly the
monk had treated him, and must have re-
pented of his foolish boasting. He related the
whole story to the constable, who had such a
high opinion of his word that he put the monk
in close custody, and gave Cellini as much
liberty as he had before.
But Cellini grew very weary of being in
prison, and, in spite of every indulgence, he
declared openly that he intended to make his
escape as soon as he could.
"I shall now try my own skill," thought
he, and see if it answers any better than
that of the monk."
He sent a message home by his servant, de-
siring some strong new sheets to be sent him,
as he meant to give those he had been using
to some poor soldiers at the castle. But in-
stead of giving them away, he tore them into
CELLINI IN PRISON. 81
strips, and hid them in the tick of his bed,
having first pulled out the straw and burnt it.
The servant did as he wished, and sent him a
pair of strong new sheets. In a very little
time he sent for more, and tore up those he
had been using, and stowed them away as he
had done to the first. He went on in this
way till he had enough strips to reach from
the top of the castle to the ground.
Meantime, the pope had ordered Cellini's
shop to be shut up, and declared that he did
not intend to let him at liberty for a long
time yet; indeed, he almost threatened to keep
him in prison for the remainder of his life.
82 FLYING FROM THE TOWER.
FLYING FROM THE TOWER.
THE constable of the castle was still very kind
to Cellini, and allowed him as much liberty as
he dared. But, unfortunately, he was subject
to attacks of illness, and when one of these
came on he would lose his senses, and some-
times fancy himself dead, or else changed into
an animal, or even a bird.
One day he asked Cellini whether, as he
was so clever, he had ever thought of making
himself a pair of wings, and flying away from
the top of the castle.
Cellini was not able to keep from boasting,
in spite of the lesson the monk had taught
him. He replied he had no doubt he could
make himself a pair of wax wings, and fly, if
he chose, as he had courage enough for any-
The constable was not in his right mind
just then, and he said directly, "I should like
FLYING FROM THE TOWER. 83
above all things to fly through the air. But
the pope has given you into my charge, and
as I know how cunning you are, I shall lock
you up with a hundred keys, so that you may
not slip out of my hands."
Poor Cellini began to beg and pray that he
might still be at liberty to walk about the
castle, and reminded the constable that he
might have made his escape many times, but
had not done so for fear of breaking his word.
But the constable was deaf to his entreaties,
and gave orders to have him locked up a close
"Very well," said Cellini, as the soldiers
were leading him away; "confine me as
closely as you please, but I am determined to
make my escape !"
When Cellini was locked up he set about
contriving how he might descend from the
great tower of St. Angelo, at the top of which
his cell was. Of course he did not think of
flying, but of letting himself down by the
strips of sheets that lay hidden in his bed, and
that he had sewed fast together.
But he could do nothing without a pair of
pincers, and these he contrived to steal from a
84 FLYING FROM THE TOWER.
carpenter who was at work in the castle. He
then began at certain times, when he was the
least afraid of being interrupted, to use the
pincers, and draw out the nails that fixed the
great iron plates upon the door. When he
had drawn out a nail, he had to think how
he should stop up the hole, so as to prevent
it being perceived. He mixed some of the
iron filings with wax, so as to look exactly
the colour of the heads of the nails he had
drawn; and as many nails as he drew out, so
many false heads did he put on, and he left
each of the plates fastened on at the top and
bottom, to prevent them from falling off.
It was very difficult to do all this, because
the constable had taken it into his head that
Cellini would try to make his escape, and he
constantly sent to have his cell examined.
The man who came to search always looked
at the iron plates on the door; but the false
nails were so like the real ones that he had
no idea what Cellini had been doing.
Cellini used to say to him, with his usual
rashness, "You had better examine well, for I
am determined to make my escape !"
Cellini kept his pincers, as well as his strips
FLYING FROM THE TOWER. 85
of sheeting, in the tick of his bed, and he was
very much afraid of any one finding them.
As soon as it was daylight he used to get up,
make his bed, and strew it with flowers that
were brought to him every day by the car-
penter from whom he had stolen the pincers.
He never allowed any one to come near it,
under pretence of disarranging the flowers;
and as he always went into a passion if such
a thing was attempted, the guards at length
gave up the point, and allowed him to do as
And now, all being ready, he determined
to make his escape that very night. He got
up while it was dark, and, having taken the
iron plates from the door, he forced the bolt
and let himself out. He had the strips of
linen rolled up under his arm, and made his
way to the roof of the tower, from which he
meant to descend. He took an end of one of
his strips, and made it fast to a tile in the
roof that happened to jut out. Then address-
ing a prayer to Heaven for safety, he let him-
self gently down, until his feet touched the
It was a clear starlight night, though the
86 FLYING FROM THE TOWER.
moon did not shine, and when Benvenuto had
reached the ground he looked up and spent a
few moments in wondering at the vast height
he had descended. Then he walked off, full
of joy at having, as he thought, gained his
liberty. But, alas his liberty was not to be
had so easily. He found that he was in an
enclosure; for two high walls had been built,
one inside the other, and he would have to
climb over both of them. What was to be
done? He walked backwards and forwards
in the greatest perplexity; for in spite of his
descent from the tower, and the risk he had
run of being killed on the spot, he was still a
prisoner, and had gained nothing. However,
he roused his courage, and looked round to
see if there was any outlet or means of escape.
There was no outlet whatever; but to his
great delight he stumbled against a long pole,
which he immediately seized, and fixed against
the wall. He contrived to climb up this pole
and reach the top of the wall. He then took
another of his long strips, made it fast to one
of the battlements of the wall, and let himself
down. He was sadly exhausted when he got
to the bottom, and it hurt his hands so much
FLYING FROM THE TOWER. 87
that he had to sit and rest before he could
He had still another wall to get over; and
just as he was walking towards it, who should
he spy but a sentinel on guard coming to meet
him. Cellini was in despair, and, grasping
his dagger with the air of a desperate man,
advanced towards him.
Perhaps the sentinel was afraid of Cellini's
fierce looks, or else was sorry for him, and
unwilling to prevent him from making his
escape. At any rate, he drew back and did
not offer to molest him. Cellini hastened to
the wall, and, climbing up it, fixed his strip to
the battlements. This wall was not so high as
the last, but Cellini was utterly exhausted.
His hands could not keep their hold of the
string, and he fell, striking his head against
He had gained his liberty by this last effort;
for there were no more bolts or bars to hold
him in, or walls to be climbed. But his free-
dom had cost him dear, and for a long time
he lay quite insensible, and unable to profit
by his escape. But now the day began to
dawn, and the cool breeze of early morning
88 FLYING FROM TEE TOWER.
fanned his brow, and recovered him from his
swoon. He raised his head and looked round
in a bewildered manner, for he could not all
at once recover his senses. He had a strange,
confused dream that he had been beheaded,
and was even now in Purgatory, for you must
remember that Cellini was a Catholic. But
there was the grim old tower of St. Angelo
close by, and the strip of sheeting fluttering
in the wind, and, nearer still, the walls he had
climbed with so much pains and difficulty. He
knew now that he had fainted from exhaustion
and fatigue, and, so far from being safe, was
in peril every moment of being seized and
shut up again in his cell. He made haste to
rise, and to fly from the spot before the con-
stable should find out that he was missing.
But when he moved he felt an agony of
pain that made him cry out, and filled him
with dismay. He had broken his leg in the
fall, and how was he to escape ?
The wish for freedom made him desperate.
He tried to forget the pain, and set to work
to bandage up his leg with what strips he
had still left. Then he took his dagger in his
hand, and began to crawl, on his hands and
FLYING FROM THE TOWER. 89
knees, towards the palace of a princess who
had always been his friend, and where he
knew he should be safe. It was getting
broad daylight, and, as he could only shuffle
along very slowly, he felt that he was in the
greatest danger. So he called to a water-
carrier who was passing with his ass laden
with vessels of water.
For the love of heaven," cried he, "place
me on your ass and carry me to the steps of
St. Peter's Church! I have broken my leg
in getting out of a window. I am unable to
walk. If you will take pity on me you shall
have a piece of gold for your pains."
The word gold had a magical effect. The
waterman helped Cellini to mount, and con-
veyed him, as he desired, to the steps of St.
Peter's Church, thinking, as he pocketed the
reward, it would be a lucky day for him since
;t had begun with a piece of gold !
Poor Cellini set out to crawl again. But
he had not gone far before he met a servant
of one of the cardinals, who knew him in a
moment. This man ran in a great hurry to
his master, and roused him from his sleep by
90 FLYING FROM THE TOWER.
"Most reverend Lord, here is Cellini the
goldsmith crawling along the streets, his hands
covered with blood, and one of his legs broken.
I cannot imagine what has happened to him,
nor what he has been doing."
The cardinal guessed the whole story in a
moment. "Run back as fast as you can,"
said he, and bring him to me into this very
The servant did as his master bade him.
He took with him one of his fellow-servants,
and, together, they carried Cellini into the room
where the cardinal had been sleeping.
As soon as the cardinal saw Cellini he was
moved with pity for his forlorn condition.
Fear nothing," said he, "with me you are
Accordingly he had him taken to a private
room in the palace, and his wounds dressed by
a physician; while he himself set off for the
Vatican, to intercede with the pope on his
By this time the report of Cellini's escape
had spread all over Rome. The long strip of
sheeting, fastened to the top of the tower, at-
tracted everybody's attention; and great crowds
FLYING FROM THE TOWER. 91
ran to look at it. The constable went into a
phrensy of rage, and his senses seemed quite
to forsake him. He wanted to go to the top
of the tower and fly from it, fancying that he
could overtake Cellini, and bring him back
He had himself carried to the pope's pre-
sence, and made a great outcry, declaring that
if his holiness did not send Cellini back to
prison it would be doing him an injustice;
that Cellini had flown away from the top of
the tower, though he had promised on his
honour not to do so; and if he found out that
any of his servants had helped him, he would
have them hanged from the same battlement
without any mercy.
In the meantime the pope had received a
visit from the cardinal and several other
persons of rank, who had thrown themselves
at his feet, and begged him to forgive Cellini.
The pope replied that Cellini had been too
presumptuous, and that his acts of passion
and insolence called aloud for punishment.
But now that he had escaped from prison by
such determined courage, he might remain
quiet and take care of his health. He, for his
92 FLYING FROM THE TOWER.
part, should confer such favours upon him as
soon to blot out the memory of his sufferings.
In spite of this promise, the pope was not
reconciled to Cellini in his heart. He said
to the constable when the poor man had
finished his ravings, "Go away, and I will
send you back your prisoner by some means
And the pope kept his word, for having
got Cellini into his power, he sent him back
to his old quarters in the castle of St. Angelo.
But I have said enough of prisons, and
so shall merely tell you that he lay there, for
a long time, in a dismal dungeon, without light
or air, the victim of the pope's displeasure,
until his holiness was prevailed upon to re-
Cellini was boastful and presumptuous, and
in most instances his own enemy. But I
think you will agree with me that, in this
case his punishment was far greater than his
I SHALL conclude the story of Cellini's life,
by giving you an account of one of the most
famous things he ever did. This was the
casting of the statue of Perseus, in the act of
holding up in triumph the head of the gorgon
I should think you all know the history of
Perseus, but in case any one of my little
readers should not have heard it, I will relate
it to you in a few words:-
There was once, according to the Greek
mythology, a monster, or as she was called a
gorgon, named Medusa. Instead of hair her
head was covered with snakes, which gave
her a very frightful appearance; and she had,
besides, the uncomfortable habit of turning
every one who looked at her into stone. A
great warrior, named Perseus, resolved to kill
the gorgon, and so prevent her doing any
more mischief. But it was no easy matter,
for he must strike the blow without looking
at her, lest he also should be turned into stone.
He never could have succeeded if the god-
dess Minerva had not helped him, by lending
him her shield, that was so bright he could
see the image of Medusa reflected in it with-
out turning his face towards her. He chose
the moment when she was asleep, and stealing
cautiously upon her, struck her with his sword,
looking all the time into his shield. Minerva's
arm directed the blow; it was fatal, and Per-
seus cut off the head, with its snaky locks,
and carried it away in triumph.
It was the figure of Perseus with the gor-
gon's head in his hand, and lifted up in
triumph, that Cellini set himself to cast for
his patron, the Duke of Florence; and, when
it was finished, it was to be placed in the
grand square of the city, side by side with
the most famous statues of the day. -
Cellini applied himself to his task with the
greatest energy. His ambition was fired at
the idea of having his statue placed in the
square, and he thought no labour too severe
to bring it to perfection.
But as it generally happens, all manner of
difficulties had to be overcome. He could do
nothing until he had a house large enough to
set up his furnaces, and he asked the duke to
let him have one, and even offered to buy it
with some jewels that the king of France had
The duke could not, for shame, rob him of
the jewels ; he promised him the house, and
told him to go to his steward for whatever
materials he wanted.
So far, so good; and Cellini set to work
with his usual ardour, and immediately planned
to build a workshop in the garden of his
house. But as the shop could not be built of
nothing, he went to the steward, and asked
for the materials.
The steward did not a bit care about the
statue of Perseus, the thought of which was
filling Cellini's whole mind, and he did not
hurry himself in the least. In fact, there was
no end to his delays, and when, at length, he
did send some of the materials for building,
there was not nearly enough, and they came
at such long intervals that the poor goldsmith
was in despair.
He tried to rouse in the workmen a little
of his own enthusiasm; but alas! it was quite
hopeless, and he saw at once that it was use-
less to depend upon any one but himself.
Under these circumstances he did what all
great men must do, he fell back on his own purse
and his own exertions, and even rooted up the
trees in the garden with his own hands to get
the shop built. At last the shop was finished,
and next he must have some props made to
hold up the statue he was going to cast.
The carpenter who made these props did
him more good than all the rest of the workmen
put together. He was of a lively disposition,
and very fond of singing merry songs. When
Cellini was out of spirits, and pretty nearly
worn out with the difficulties he had to en-
counter, the carpenter used to strike up some
old ballad that diverted his mind, and gener-
ally succeeded in making him begin to sing
too. By the time the ballad came to an end
every gloomy thought was gone, and he went
back to his work with cheerfulness and courage.
I think I must tell you how Cellini cast
his statue, that was to be of bronze, hollow,
and all of one piece.
He first made an exact model of it in clay;
and when this had been baked in the furnace,
he laid a coating of wax upon it about the
thickness of his finger. Upon the wax lie
laid another coating of clay, and put it in the
furnace to bake. The wax melted with the
heat of the fire and ran out through some
holes he had made for the purpose. When all
the wax was melted and goneit left an empty
space between the two coatings of clay and
into this empty space, the metal had to be
poured boiling hot.
Cellini's patron, the duke, was not very en-
couraging. While the various preparations
were being made he kept saying, it was easy
to make a model of wax, or even of clay; but
to cast a statue in bronze was quite a differ-
" That head of Medusa, for instance," said
he, that Perseus holds in his hand; how can
you expect it to come out well ?"
Cellini was irritated at having his abilities
doubted, and he explained to the duke that
there was no difficulty whatever about the
head either of Perseus or of the Gorgon.
The only danger," he replied, "is in the